A complicated story

I’m going to ask you to do something a bit hard: to recognize that in an argument, both parties can be wrong.

This week, some community members started organizing against the supportive housing LOFT announced on Church Street. They put flyers on street posts and in mailboxes (including my own).

The flyers said that “crime, drugs, theft, property damage, low income, [and] prostitution” are problems in the community—and that “the former Humber River Regional hospital is turning 5 houses on Church St. into rooming/halfway houses for profit”.

As far as I can tell, little of that is accurate. They’re not going to be “rooming” (for profit) or “halfway houses” (for former criminals). They are “supportive housing for outgoing patients facing mental health challenges”, according to Debora Jesus, from LOFT.

Nor are they likely for profit. They are owned by the hospital, and LOFT is a charity, not a business. I’m not a lawyer, but this seems impossible. (And I’ll leave it to you to decide whether Weston has a large problem with petty crime. I don’t think so.)

But LOFT and the HRH don’t come out of this blameless.

I don’t think they did enough consultation, or sought opinions from far enough around the community.

I’m far from a good barometer, but I do try to keep attuned to what’s going on in Weston. I didn’t hear about LOFT’s “information session” (notably, not a consultation) until after it had passed.

I wasn’t the only one. Several members of the Weston Village Neighbours group didn’t know about it, and MPP Faisal Hassan wrote a letter to the CEO of LOFT saying he would have hoped to have been included. He wasn’t.

He also wrote “I … urge you to have broad community consultations and to involve local residents and elected officials such as myself.”

LOFT, for their part, says that they met with the WVRA and Frances Nunziata, and circulated flyers in a 3-block radius.

They also say, however, that “there are no further in-person meetings planned”.

This sort of stuff isn’t rocket science. I’m in favour of supportive housing, but LOFT should have known—or been told—that Weston gets quite enough “information” and not enough consultation from developers, Metrolinx, and, yes, the Humber River Regional Hospital. (Which announced years ago that they would be selling the property until, whoops, community members told them that they legally couldn’t.)

LOFT announced supportive housing on Church Street

LOFT Community Services announced that it will be using five homes on Church Street near the hospital for “supportive housing for outgoing patients facing mental health challenges starting October 2021”.

While the comments on the Weston Village Neighbours Facebook page were generally supportive, some noted that there had been little notification or consultation. I haven’t received a response from LOFT to my email asking for more details.

Church St update

Dan Harris sent along the response he received from city staff regarding the traffic islands on Church St. It’s good-ish news.

Staff say that there won’t be traffic islands, which—in my opinion—is a blessing. The streets are too narrow.

City staff also said that they had hoped to alternate the placement of islands on the south and north sides of the street but “Unfortunately this was not possible as the TTC required two buses to be able to pass each other at the same time”.

They also left open the possibility that the the islands could be better placed in the future when the road is repaved: “with any future road rehabilitation, the islands can be incorporated, like on Riverside Drive.”

HRRH closes

The Humber River Regional Hospital closed this weekend. On Sunday morning at 6 am, the Church Street site shut its doors for the last time.

The hospital has moved to a new building at Keele and Wilson.


(Skip to 12:00)

The move, like the hospital, has been contentious. The future of the Church Street site is uncertain; the hospital board would like to sell it to pay a portion of their part of the bill (which is $200 million) but the city has a claim on some of the land.

Laura Albanese distanced herself from the move in a recent email circular, which included a very interesting passage:

The Province of Ontario does not own the land on which the HRH Church site is located. It is owned by the hospital…. Hospital leaders, including their Board of Directors, must take into account the overall public interest when making decisions .

If true, perhaps the Board might be held to a higher standard than pure profit and the land, perhaps, could be used for something other than another high-rise.

The hospital was contentious long before it closed, however. It was for a time one of the worst hospitals in Canada, and tried to hide the fact.

Still, it tried hard to improve over the past 8 years, and many people, myself included, feel attachments to it for the health care it provided us.

Video by “Across the Board”

Traffic changes in Weston

Metrolinx will soon be making some changes to traffic routing in Weston. Metrolinx is also extending work hours until 11 pm (except on Sundays) until the spring.

  • King Street will be reopened at the tracks (but remain closed at Weston Road) in mid-November.
  • King Street will completely reopen in mid-December
  • Church Street will be closed at the track starting in mid-November.
  • The TTC will be rerouted.

Metrolinx will be having a meeting on November 7 to discuss the closure and extended hours at the York West Active Living Centre, 1901 Weston Road, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

 

HRRH no longer the abbatoir it once was

Is it good news when things aren’t as bad as they once were? If so, then we have some good news!

In 2007, Humber River Regional Hospital was one of the most dangerous hospitals in the country. It had the second worst mortality rate in Canada; the hospital even refused to release their numbers in 2007, the year it performed the worst. It was eventually forced to, and the results were quite shocking: 36% more people were dying there than were expected to. (Interesting trivia: George Smitherman, the Minister of Health at the time, and the person who forced them to release their data, was born at the HRRH Church Street site).

Since then, however, things have got better—much better. Their mortality rate has continued to improve every year, and this year, the HRRH is quite safe. Its mortality rate is 7% below average.¹

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¹ My father is an epidemiologist. He would have a heart attack (hopefully at Mississauga’s Credit Valley Hospital, the best) if he saw me using stats like this. It’s complicated. It’s close enough, though.

17 year-old Caught With Gun

Last Sunday, July 24, 31 Division officers patrolling at Weston and Church apprehended a young man who allegedly in addition to a quantity of marijuana, had a stolen .32 Smith and Wesson handgun in his possession. Judging by the nature of the charges against him, this young man is probably not a first-time offender. The police report did not mention if the officers were part of the TAVIS program or on regular patrol.